This is the official thread for Section 3.2 of the TMS Recovery Program donated by Alan Gordon of the Pain Psychology Center (PPC). This section is entitled "Recognize Destructive Behaviors." Neither Alan nor the PPC necessarily endorses this thread or any of the viewpoints presented in it. Please keep these official threads on topic and put your best thoughts down, as these threads will be read by many people. All posts in this thread should all relate to section 3.2 of the TMS Recovery Program: http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/TMS_Recovery_Program#Recognize_Destructive_Behaviors In section 3.2, Alan writes the following: Recognize Destructive Behaviors In many cases, people aren’t even aware that they’re treating themselves in an abusive or neglectful way. Look at Brandon. When I ask him about ways he may be treating himself poorly, he responds, “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs,” oblivious to the fact that that what he’s doing to himself psychologically could be just as damaging. In these cases, recognizing and identifying the destructive behaviors is essential. Let’s start off with abuse. There are three primary ways that people psychologically abuse themselves. The first is criticism. People beat themselves up all the time. Some of the more general messages might be, "You're worthless" or "What's wrong with you?" More specific (and more subtle) examples might be, “How could you have screwed up that presentation?” or “You’re not talking enough, you’re so boring.” These messages are toxic. Would you talk to someone you care about this way? Why would you treat yourself worse than a loved one? Listen to an example of self-criticism Click here to download the mp3 audio Another way people abuse themselves is by putting pressure on themselves: “You’re not working hard enough,” “You’re not making enough money,” “You need to lose more weight.” When you put pressure on yourself, it carries the underlying message of, “You have to do this or else…” You may not be saying these words, but that’s how our primitive minds interpret this pressure. It’s like having a drill sergeant in your head. A lot of clients I’ve worked with feel like the pressure is their friend. “If I didn’t put pressure on myself, I wouldn’t get anything done. I’d just lay around all day in my sweat pants eating bon bons. The pressure helps me accomplish things.” In reality, the opposite is often true. Pressure can be a motivation killer. Remember how much more enjoyable it was reading a book for fun than when it was assigned for homework? Discipline can exist without pressure. You can be free to work on things with a sense of joy, instead of a sense of a heaviness. Some clients have told me that when they stop putting so much pressure on themselves, they actually become more productive. Listen to an example of pressure Click here to download the mp3 audio Finally, one of the most common ways people abuse themselves is with fear. “What if I don't get better?” “What if the pain is structurally caused?” “What if I never get married?” “What if no one likes my cooking?” This is like having the boogeyman in your head. And our primitive minds can’t tell the difference between a physical threat (“There’s a tiger behind that bush”) and a psychological threat (“What if I fail my midterm?”) So these fear thoughts throw us into a state of fight-or-flight. Listen to an example of fear Click here to download the mp3 audio Abusing yourself in these ways can have consequences. Just as a child might rebel if treated abusively or neglectfully, the body can rebel as well in the form of pain, anxiety, or depression. The following exercise might help you better identify some of these destructive thoughts: Exercise in Recognizing Destructive Behaviors If we give a few minutes of thought to it, we can all find examples to recognize our destructive behavior that may very likely cause us TMS pain. We may question our self-worth, pressure ourselves into feeling we botched something or could have done better, and worry ourselves into a state of anxiety and fear. None of us is perfect and we shouldn’t expect to be. Most of us do our best, and what more than that should we expect of ourselves? I admit to being guilty of all three of the self-abuse categories in Recognize Destructive Behaviors. Criticism. I write books. When one is published I think that I could have done better. I think I’ve written some good ones, but never got famous or rich because of any or all of them. But when I think I haven’t “made it” as a writer, I remind myself that fame and fortune was never my goal in writing. My goal was and still is, to write books that in some way can help people, and believe I have. Great actors and actresses, from Laurence Olivier to Bette Davis, have said they always thought they could have done better in most of their movies. The thing is, instead of criticizing ourselves for not doing better, we should praise ourselves for doing what we did. If we made a mistake in something, keep in mind that we tried and did our best. And we can learn from our mistakes, so we don’t let them happen again. Pressuring ourselves. I broke from the traditional mold of everyone in my family going to work for a big company after high school. I went to college and later became a fulltime freelance writer. I put a lot of pressure on myself writing books that brought in uncertain income. But I’ve thought about the pressure I gave myself and then remember one of my best friends. He had a lot of potential in any field he might have chosen, but he went to college to study food management and became manager of a food chain store. Nothing wrong in that, but I thought he could have done more with his life. Same with another friend who said he wanted to be a television anchorman, and he had the voice and good looks for it, but he never tried, instead he became a real estate lawyer. Nice secure job, but whatever happened to his ambition? Some of us can pressure ourselves and others don’t pressure themselves at all, but they can get what also can cause TMS: lack of self-respect from not challenging themselves enough. Those friends who did not challenge themselves enough did not have to pursue more challenging careers fulltime; they could have spent evenings or weekends being more creative. They wanted to, but never tried. They never pressured themselves, and that can cause TMS because of regret: a life not fully lived. Some pressure can be a good thing, but another friend pressures himself to be both rich and famous by writing important, meaningful books. He doesn’t have a monkey on his back, he has a full-grown gorilla, and gives himself, his wife, and everyone who works for him TMS. Fear. One of the questions this asks is “What if I don’t get married.” I never married, and have never regretted it. I became godfather to six of my relatives’ and friends’ kids, also became like a surrogate father to quite a few others, and helped several couples to remain in their marriage. I do recognize self-destructive behavior in matters or health, worrying a hangnail into losing an arm, or fearing financial ruin in the future, or fearing what comes after the last breath the Lord allows me. I need to have more positive confidence in my future and, for sure, in the Lord.